Girls basketball: Southwest Christian handles the chaos

WORTHINGTON -- Thursday's game between Worthington and Southwest Minnesota Christian had the markings of an early-season contest.In short, it wasn't pretty.After a first half riddled with turnovers and mistakes on both ends, the Eagles cleaned th...

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ZACH HACKER/DAILY GLOBE Worthington’s Allie Bruns (22) makes a pass around Hope Veldkamp (3) of Southwest Minnesota Christian early in the second half Thursday in Worthington. The Eagles pulled away for a 61-44 nonconference win.


WORTHINGTON - Thursday’s game between Worthington and Southwest Minnesota Christian had the markings of an early-season contest.
In short, it wasn’t pretty.
After a first half riddled with turnovers and mistakes on both ends, the Eagles cleaned things up well enough in the second half to take a 61-44 nonconference victory.
“Worthington is terrific at creating chaos,” SWC head coach Denise Nerem said. “In the first half that got to us and we let them take it to the basket on their dribble-drive. In the second half we decided to mix it up and play a little zone. I thought that was absolutely critical.”
Trojans’ head coach Eric Lindner said his team made too many defensive mistakes, allowing too much dribble penetration. The Eagles took advantage of what he said was a “flat-footed” performance by attacking the basket on nearly every possession. It was the kind of game, he said, that neither team showed much of a spark.
That said, one stat did stand out when the final horn sounded. The Eagles were 21-for-23 from the free throw line - including a perfect 14-for-14 in the second half - while Worthington made only 7-of-28 from the charity stripe.
“That’s inexcusable,” Lindner said. “We work on them every day in practice. That’s just a discipline thing.”
Nerem said it was her team’s way of making up for a less-than-stellar shooting night from the floor.
“When things aren’t going well, you’ve got to find different ways to get on the scoreboard,” she said.
Those free throws made a big difference in the outcome of the contest. Until late in the game, it was really anyone’s ballgame.
Four early points for Emily Nerem along with a Kassydi Vreeman layup helped put SWC on top 24-16 with 5:24 remaining in the first half. That’s when Worthington made its first big run of the night.
It truly started when Emma Thuringer made an ankle-breaking cross-over move on the right wing to drive in for a layup. Emma Gerber swished two free throws before Ahmitara Alwal dropped in a breakaway layup off of an Emily Shaffer steal on the other end. Suddenly, the game was tied at 24-all with 2:37 before the half.
For the remainder of the half, a Lydia Homandberg free throw accounted for all of the scoring and the Eagles held a razor-thin 25-24 lead at halftime.
“Worthington is a good ballclub,” Coach Nerem said. “They’re gonna win a lot of games this year. We’re happy to walk out of here with a win.”
SWC went on a small surge to open the second half, but a nice bucket from Shaffer got the Trojans back within one at 29-28. A Madi Woll three-pointer followed by an Alwal layup had them within one again after falling behind by six, but the Eagles seized control from there.
Brooklyn DeKam drained a trifecta that put SWC up 41-35 with 10:38 to play. By the time Paige Heidebrink - whom Lindner said had a strong game off of the bench - scored three quick points, the deficit had grown to eight. Seven straight points by senior point guard Hope Veldkamp culminated in a three-pointer with 5:54 left. That was essentially the dagger as the Eagles went up 52-40.
“You knew that somebody was gonna make a run that made the difference,” Lindner said. “Tonight, that wasn’t us.”
Emily Nerem finished the night with a game-high 18 points with Veldkamp and Ann Pater scoring 11 and 10, respectively. The three combined to go 18-of-18 from the foul line.
Worthington was led in the scoring department by Thuringer with 12. Allie Bruns added eight with Alwal chipping in six.
The Eagles (2-0 overall, 0-0 Red Rock Conference) will open league play at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday against crosstown rival Edgerton Public. Worthington (1-2 overall, 1-1 Big South Conference) is back on its home floor at 6 p.m. tonight against Windom Area. That game kicks off a doubleheader with the boys teams to follow.
“Some of us might be fatigued, but that’s part of the game,” Lindner said. “You’ve gotta play whether you’re exhausted or fresh. That’s the good thing about playing right away. We get this performance out of our minds and hopefully play better.”
SWC 25 61
WHS 24 44
SWC (3PT-2PT-FT-TP) - Veldkamp 1-3-2-11, Pater 0-1-8-10, Vreeman 0-2-0-4, Nerem 0-5-8-18, DeKam 1-0-2-5, Homandberg 0-0-1-1, Talsma 0-2-0-4, Ch. Groen 0-4-0-8. Totals 2-17-21-61.
WORTHINGTON (3PT-2PT-FT-TP) - Alwal 0-3-0-6, Thuringer 0-5-2-12, Brungs 0-3-2-8, Gerber 0-1-2-4, Woll 1-0-0-3, Heidebrink 0-1-1-3, Weg 0-2-0-4, Shaffer 0-2-0-4. Totals 1-17-7-44.

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ZACH HACKER/DAILY GLOBE Worthington’s Emma Thuringer drives past Cassie Groen (11) of Southwest Minnesota Christian during the Trojans’ home loss Thursday.

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